Literature Critical Analysis of Russel Banks Rule of the Bone Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Rule of the Bone

About the author

The author Russell Banks writes in the manner that infused his stories with a sadistic honesty and moral goodness that his characters strive to live up to. He writes in striking and most often sad tones about the drama of daily life (Anderson, eye net).

Furthermore, his themes of failure, of weakness, of the complexity of living an honest life were often desolating, but all his stories does contain a positive wisdom to them along with a sense of optimism found in the details that he carefully draws out of his characters' routine and everyday realities (Anderson, eye net). Hence, in my opinion no modern author writes more delicately about common man's uncertain search for the American grail of material ease and self-esteem than Russell Banks.

About the book

In writing Rule of the Bone the author Russell Banks took almost a year off to write the beautiful story of a working-class teenage boy who tried to cope up and keep his honesty and truthfulness undamaged even in the lack of any admirable role models (

Banks used his much-praised novel Rule of the Bone to plunge into the disjointed, rarely violent world of a fourteen-year-old mall rat who lived in a culture that has no place for him. His real father hasn't been heard from in years, while his divorced mother sides with his abusive and aggressive stepfather along with his grandmother who was a cold-eyed self-interest person (

Furthermore, no one in the family, or any teacher and no community figure took the time to hear out the mohawk-headed boy. Thus, after leaving his mother's home he joined the world of biker gangs, theft and drug dealings (

I think the experience of reading the book Rule of the Bone is same as having the experience of adolescence and youth, which certainly moves you through it quickly but by the end of the story, you may sense that there is something in you that has been changed enduringly.

Analysis of the book

Russell Banks in a voice that was completely true to its speaker described the sad tale in first-person of a teenaged boy Chappie, a punked-out teenager who was living with his mother and insulting stepfather in an upstate New York trailer park. In those days, he indulged into drugs and minor crimes.

However, his lack of direction led him to filch from his mother in order to buy pot. However, he was caught for this theft and as a result, he was thrown out of the home. Now rejected by his parents, and out of school as well as in trouble with the police, he declared for himself a new identity as a lasting outsider and got a crossed-bones tattoo on his arm, and took the name Bone (Joyce, 1995).

Since, being a wanderer, he was very young as well as inexperienced to take advantage of other people so he was taken advantage of. And so his need for food and shelter made him to be companion with types who were even more notorious than him ( But actually I think he was not really that bad or evil, it was he was being kicked around a lot.

However, he decided to trace down his real father in Jamaica and made it a priority and gained from that experience, some insight that might help him over the
...I think Banks' earlier books and stories have been keenly sought with this one prove no exception (

So, while reading the first thing you think about Rule of the Bone will be the character voice who is careless, lively, distracted, revolutionary, idle, and at the same time emotional. This voice is of a fourteen-year-old boy who really gets under your skin as you read the novel (Joyce, 1995).

Further on, the language used in the story does not require close analysis as it was not the language of introspection, nor it has been tied with imagery and skillful literary tricks. The story has been written in a language of an exorcism, a memorial as well as it was a confessional, and rushed out in one long breath. Thus, the further in you go, the faster you go, enormously looking for a sense of conclusion with any of the numerous plot points Banks worked up in the tale (

However, unfortunately, the book concluded in a completely unsatisfying manner. Since nothing was solved as the reader had no clue as to Chappie or Bone's future. Moreover, there was some problem too with the plot that was being dragged down to Jamaica, to a Rastafarian fantasy world of gangsters, drugs, and swimming pools.

Coming back to the story, Chappie as now discarded by his parents as well as by everyone he along with his best friend, Russ got a crossed-bone tattoo on his arm with the new name as Bone (

Throughout the tale Bone's sharp and humorous comments written by Banks offered ironic, tearing descriptions of blue-collar white America, whether in the mall, or at Christmas day, or on package tours. He was more persuasive on the troubles than the solutions to it, and combined outstanding facts and information along with a willful naivety of image. Nevertheless, I think he further gave an inspiring new energy to any number of old formulas through this dependably readable novel.

Thus, in my opinion Rule of the Bone is certainly more commercial than his earlier work and it also appeared to have backpack currency with people of Bone's age and above. Since this type of narrative is difficult for many writers to pull off, but more really difficulty arises when the narrator happened to be a seventh-grade dropout who has been stoned most of his life and not only this he throughout the story was either high, or getting high or even close to get high or planning how to. Even then the reader will be persistently force-fed the inconsistency of the seemingly uneducated as well as continually stoned kid possessing vocabulary most English professors would be envious of (

Furthermore, Rule of the Bone invites comparison not only with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but also even to some extent with The Catcher in the Rye.

Chappie or nicknamed Bone introduces himself in the novel with blunt words:

You'll probably think I'm making a lot of this up just to make me sound better than I really am or smarter or even luckier but I'm not. Besides, a lot of the things that've happened to me in my life so far which I'll get to pretty soon'll make me sound evil or just plain dumb or the tragic victim of circumstances. Which I know doesn't exactly prove I'm telling the truth but if I wanted to make myself look better than I am or smarter or the master of my own fate so to speak I could. The fact is the truth is more interesting than anything I could make up and that's why I'm telling it in the first place" (Joyce, 1995).

There are echoes in Chappie's voice that of course are deliberate ones since the author seemed to want to make the most of them in order to add quality to his own lackluster tale. However, as Chappie was fast in telling his readers, he was fourteen years old when his life got interesting, but in fact things were not good at home for a long time since his real father ran off when he was 5, and his mother got married to a drunken vandal called Ken, who proved himself to be as abusive as Huck Finn's brutal father, Pap.

Now after running from home with his friend Russ, they lived in a dirty apartment along with a group of violent bikers who spent most of their time sitting around getting high, drinking beer, picking up women and threatened those who got in their way. On the other hand Chappie was their good luck charm sort of and he paid his way by keeping them in drugs (

However, both being scared of the bikers, Chappie and Russ headed for the New Hampshire border. And here along the way he got a tattoo on his arm with his name changed as he said:

tattoo does that makes you think about your body like it's this special suit that you can put on or take off whenever you want, and a new name if it's cool enough does the same thing. To have both at once is power. It's the kind of power as all those superheroes who have secret identities get from being able to change back and forth from one person into another. No matter who you think he is, man, the dude is always somebody else" (Joyce, 1995).

As the story moves, they both stopped at a wealthy family's summer house, which they break into and burned the furniture for firewood, and even ate…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Anderson, Jason. Eye. Russell Banks.


Donahue, Deirdre. Russell Banks' Bone cuts right to the flawed family. USA Today.


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